Drug Testing in Schools

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Please Pee In This Cup

In January 2005, a school in Kent becomes the first state school in the UK to report the introduction of random (‘suspicionless’) drug testing. Testing is already widespread in independent boarding schools, with three-quarters of schools reported to be using some drug testing. Although the enthusiasm from teachers and parents for testing, a few practical studies have examined the effects of drug testing in schools. One thing that makes this problem difficult to address is the issue of violating the kid’s individual rights. Drug testing is conducted by taking blood, urine, saliva, hair, breath or sweat tests. The different methods each have their own faults. For example, while urine testing is cheap and able to identify most of the drugs that are misused, observed tests (to prevent cheating) are uncertain in children. Hair testing is more costly, can provide qualitative and quantitative analysis of drug use over prior weeks although cannot detect very recent (past few days) use. Hair testing can be false as well: dark-haired people are more likely to test positive than blonds, as well as having the problem of false-positive results due to passive exposure. At the same time testing sweat is even more expensive than other methods and can be effected by passive exposure. As for the least pricey, immunoassay (any laboratory method for detecting a substance by using an antibody reactive with it.) (ditctionary.com) urine test, and costs around $14-$30 per test; but confirmatory tests also add to the cost. False positives are another problem they can be found from regularly taken medications: codeine products and poppy seeds can produce false-positive tests for opiates; ibuprofen a false positive for cannabis; and decongestants false positive for amphetamines. Even herbal teas can produce false-positive results. “In one school district in the US, the cost of detecting only 11 students who tested positive amounted to US $35,000”...
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